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Vico’s Ring


ing Nature», in the form of gathering data for the purposes of

acquiring the first kind of knowledge, followed by «deduc[ing] by

logical inference the meaning of the authors», resulting in the

second kind of knowledge. The second major point, by contrast,

does not concern methodology at all but the contents of Scrip-

ture, in that «it must be made evident to us from Scripture alone

that it teaches true moral doctrine», and «the divinity of Scripture

must be established solely from the fact that it teaches true vir-



, as though the main result to be sought is already presup-

posed in the initial premise(s), turning it into a case of circular

reasoning. Coming to the final section, these two key topics are

taken up again, in reverse order, in the form of brief restate-

ments: first, that the «meaning» of Scripture consists of its «mor-

al doctrines» and «teachings of true piety», and, secondly, «that by

a process of logical deduction that which is hidden is inferred

and concluded (

legitimis consequentiis deducat atque concludat

) from

what is known, or given as known».

Both topics are closely related by virtue of comprising the

second kind of knowledge


, and being featured at the end of

the exposition once again reiterates the thrust of Spinoza’s ar-

gument throughout, namely, that the scope of Scripture remains

strictly confined within these limits; he goes so far as saying that

a grasp of this basic «meaning» of Scripture, ultimately, is all that

is needed: «Therefore, we have no reason to be unduly anxious

concerning the other contents of Scripture»


. From this per-

spective, the whole enterprise or project of biblical stud-

ies/criticism is being cast in a new light


; the seemingly sophis-

ticated methodological apparatus developed in this chapter of


, in the end, seems to serve little positive purpose, since it is

ultimately termed irrelevant to «understand[ing] the meaning of

Scripture with confidence in matters relating to salvation and

necessary to blessedness»



With the final reference to the role of deduction and infer-

ence in Scriptural interpretation, Spinoza confirms and re-affirms